Jeremiah 31

Thursday Evening Bible Study

March 24, 2005

Jeremiah 31

Jeremiah 30-33 are called Jeremiah’s “Book of Consolation”. Just before the nation of Judah goes into its final moments, God sends this word of future hope and restoration.

:1-6 God’s love, joy restored

(NKJV) :1 "At the same time," says the LORD, "I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people."

Not just the tribe of Judah, but all the tribes will be called God’s people. There would be a uniting of the nation once again.

:2 Thus says the LORD: "The people who survived the sword Found grace in the wilderness; Israel, when I went to give him rest."

The people who survived the sword – This is talking about Israel escaping the bondage of Egypt.

grace in the wilderness

They went through forty years of struggling, yet they found grace.

:3 The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

everlasting ‘owlam – long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world; it speaks of the “vanishing point”.

God has loved us for a very long time.


The Hebrew word is hesed, used about 250 times in the OT. It means loyal, steadfast, or faithful love and stresses the idea of a belonging together of those involved in the love relationship.

Here it connotes God’s faithful love for His unfaithful people. In the OT, communion, deliverance, enabling, enlightenment, guidance, forgiveness, hope, praise, preservation are all based on God’s hesed.


Everlasting Love

We need to be loved.

From 1986 to 1990, Frank Reed was held hostage in a Lebanon cell. For months at a time Reed was blindfolded, living in complete darkness, or chained to a wall and kept in absolute silence.  On one occasion, he was moved to another room, and, although blindfolded, he could sense others in the room.  Yet it was three weeks before he dared peek out to discover he was chained next to Terry Anderson and Tom Sutherland.

Although he was beaten, made ill, and tormented, Reed felt most the lack of anyone caring.  He said in an interview with Time, “Nothing I did mattered to anyone.  I began to realize how withering it is to exist with not a single expression of caring around [me]. ... I learned one overriding fact: caring is a powerful force.  If no one cares, you are truly alone.”

God has let us know He loves us.  He’s written love letters to us.

When Elizabeth Barrett became the wife of Robert Browning, her parents disowned her because they disapproved of the marriage. The daughter, however, wrote almost every week, telling them that she loved them and longed for a reconciliation.  After 10 years she received a huge box in the mail that contained all the notes she had sent.  Not one had been opened!  Although these “love letters” have become an invaluable part of classical English literature, it’s really pathetic to think that they were never read by Elizabeth Barrett’s parents.  Had they looked at just one, the broken relationship with their daughter might have been healed.

His love letters can penetrate our heart.

Richard Armstrong, Make Your Life Worthwhile, reports the story about a man in Wales who sought to win the affection of a certain lady for 42 years before she finally said, “Yes.”  The couple, both 74, recently became “Mr. and Mrs.”

For more than 40 years, the persistent, but rather shy man slipped a weekly love letter under his neighbor’s door.  But she continually refused to speak and mend the spat that had parted them many years before.

After writing 2,184 love letters without ever getting a spoken or written answer, the single-hearted old man eventually summoned up enough courage to present himself in person.  He knocked on the door of the reluctant lady and asked for her hand.  To his delight and surprise, she accepted.

God has loved us more than just with words, but in action as well.
(John 3:16 NKJV) "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
(Rom 5:8 NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And this love that comes through Jesus was something that was set up a long time ago.  It is from everlasting.
(Micah 5:2 NKJV)  "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting."
(1 Pet 1:20 NKJV)  He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you
(Rev 13:8 NKJV)  All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
In the French revolution, a young man was condemned to the guillotine and shut up in one of the prisons. He was greatly loved by many, but there was someone who loved him more than all the others put together. That one was his own father, and the love he bore his son was proved in this way: when the lists were called, the father—whose name was exactly the same as the son’s—answered to the name, and the father rode in the gloomy tumbrel out to the place of execution, and his head rolled beneath the axe instead of his son’s, a victim to mighty love. (Spurgeon)

:4 Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.

:5 You shall yet plant vines on the mountains of Samaria; The planters shall plant and eat them as ordinary food.

We call the “mountains of Samaria” the “West Bank” today.

:6 For there shall be a day When the watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim, 'Arise, and let us go up to Zion, To the LORD our God.'"

Ephraim – one of the northern tribes, the name is also used to represent the entire northern kingdom. When Jesus returns, there will be no split between the north and the south. The north will also come to Jerusalem to worship.

:7-9 They will return

:7 For thus says the LORD: "Sing with gladness for Jacob, And shout among the chief of the nations; Proclaim, give praise, and say, 'O LORD, save Your people, The remnant of Israel!'

:8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, And gather them from the ends of the earth, Among them the blind and the lame, The woman with child And the one who labors with child, together; A great throng shall return there.

:9 They shall come with weeping, And with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, In a straight way in which they shall not stumble; For I am a Father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn.

Even though much of Jeremiah’s ministry has been a warning of the judgment that’s coming, he also lets the people that they have a future.  God will one day restore the nation.

:10-14 Prosperity

:10 "Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, And declare it in the isles afar off, and say, 'He who scattered Israel will gather him, And keep him as a shepherd does his flock.'

:11 For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, And ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he.

ransomed – from Babylon, in the future it’s from the antichrist

He has ransomed us from sin.

:12 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, Streaming to the goodness of the LORD; For wheat and new wine and oil, For the young of the flock and the herd; Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden, And they shall sorrow no more at all.

There was a song we used to sing a long time ago …

(Jer 31:12 KJV) Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.

:13 "Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, And the young men and the old, together; For I will turn their mourning to joy, Will comfort them, And make them rejoice rather than sorrow.

:14 I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD."

The priests being “satiated” speaks of prosperity.  The people are not only doing well, but they are bringing their offerings to God.

As we’ve talked about, these prophecies of Jeremiah about Israel’s restoration not only had a partial fulfillment when the people returned from Babylon and another partial fulfillment in 1948, but this picture of prosperity speaks of when Jesus will return.

:15 Rachel weeping

:15 Thus says the LORD: "A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more."

Ramah – a city 5 miles north of Jerusalem. It was a gathering point where captives were taken before beginning the journey to Babylon (Jer. 40:1).

Rachel – one of Jacob’s wives, one of the mothers of Israel.

The picture is of Rachel weeping for her children being taken off to Babylon.

There is also a prophetic side to this verse:

When Herod realized he had been tricked by the wise men, he had all the children two years and under in the area of Bethlehem put to death. Matthew quoted this verse (Mat. 2:18), saying that the sorrow that came in Jesus’ day was a fulfillment of this verse.

:16-20 Repentant, joy, God’s mercy

:16 Thus says the LORD: "Refrain your voice from weeping, And your eyes from tears; For your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD, And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.

:17 There is hope in your future, says the LORD, That your children shall come back to their own border.

:18 "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself: 'You have chastised me, and I was chastised, Like an untrained bull; Restore me, and I will return, For You are the LORD my God.

:19 Surely, after my turning, I repented; And after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh; I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated, Because I bore the reproach of my youth.'

:20 Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For though I spoke against him, I earnestly remember him still; Therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, says the LORD.

Jeremiah has been telling the people that they need to learn the lessons that God is putting before them, but they’ve been stubborn and stiff-necked.

But there will be a day when they people will come to their senses.

Jesus talked about this in one of His parables:

(Luke 15:11-24 NLT)  To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: "A man had two sons. {12} The younger son told his father, 'I want my share of your estate now, instead of waiting until you die.' So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. {13} "A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and took a trip to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money on wild living. {14} About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. {15} He persuaded a local farmer to hire him to feed his pigs. {16} The boy became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. {17} "When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, 'At home even the hired men have food enough to spare, and here I am, dying of hunger! {18} I will go home to my father and say, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, {19} and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man."' {20} "So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. {21} His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.' {22} "But his father said to the servants, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet. {23} And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast, {24} for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.' So the party began.

The Father has a heart for His children. He longs for the day that they will come to their senses and come home.

:21-22 Remember the way home

:21 "Set up signposts, Make landmarks; Set your heart toward the highway, The way in which you went. Turn back, O virgin of Israel, Turn back to these your cities.

Hanzel and Gretel left breadcrumbs to find their way back home.

The Jews were to be a little smarter and they were to set up large landmarks to help them find their way back from Babylon.

:22 How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter?

(Jer 31:22 NLT)  How long will you wander, my wayward daughter?

:22 For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth; A woman shall encompass a man."

The meaning is uncertain.

Some say it refers to the safety in the millennium when a woman is all the protection a man would need.

Others say it refers to Israel (as the woman) returning to God (as the man)

Others say it refers to the incarnation, when God became a man inside the womb of a woman.

:23-26 God gives rest

:23 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "They shall again use this speech in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I bring back their captivity: 'The LORD bless you, O home of justice, and mountain of holiness!'

:24 "And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all its cities together, farmers and those going out with flocks.

:25 "For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul."

Not only is there a restoration of the entire nation of Israel, but Judah in particular will be restored.

:26 After this I awoke and looked around, and my sleep was sweet to me.

It seems that some of this chapter may have been given to Jeremiah in a dream.  And now he wakes up to think about what he has dreamed.

Sometimes the things we dream about cause us to worry even more.

These things have brought Jeremiah peace.

:27-30 Reap from your own sour grapes

:27 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast.

:28 "And it shall come to pass, that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to throw down, to destroy, and to afflict, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the LORD.

:29 "In those days they shall say no more: 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children's teeth are set on edge.'

:30 "But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.

Ezekiel was given a similar message while in Babylon:

(Ezek 18:1-4 NKJV) The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, {2} "What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children's teeth are set on edge'? {3} "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel. {4} "Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.

I wonder if the people had developed this saying because of the Babylonian captivity. Their nation was being punished partly because of the sins of their fathers.

Yet there would be a day when each person would be punished for their own sins. That’s the way it is now.

:31-34 New Covenant

:31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;

:32 "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.

:33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

:34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

Elements of the New Covenant:

A change of heart, the God’s ways written on our hearts

Knowing God


The way it happens in our lives, the order is reversed:  First comes forgiveness, then we can know God, and God writes His ways on our hearts.


God’s forgiveness

The Bible says that if we confess our sins (1John 1:9), God will forgive.
His forgiveness is complete. He wipes the slate clean.
When God buries our sins in the deepest sea, He posts a sign which reads: No Fishing!
(Micah 7:18-19 KJV) Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. {19} He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
(Psa 103:12 KJV) As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
“The Blood of Christ”
One night in a church service a young woman felt the tug of the Holy Spirit in her heart. She responded to God’s call and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. The young woman had a very rough past, involving alcohol, drugs and prostitution. But, the change in her was evident. As time went on she became a faithful member of the church. She eventually became involved in the ministry teaching young children. It not very long until this faithful young woman had caught the eye and the heart of the pastor’s son. The relationship grew and they began to make wedding plans. This is when the problems began.
You see, about one half of the church did not think that a woman with a past such as hers was suitable for a pastor’s son. The church began to argue and fight about the matter. So they decided to have a meeting. As the people made their arguments and tensions increased, the meeting got completely out of hand. The young woman became very upset about all the things being brought up about her past. As she began to cry, the pastor’s son stood to speak. He could not bear the pain it was causing his wife to be. He began to speak and his statement was this: “My fiance’s past is not what is on trial here. What you are questioning is the ability of the blood of Jesus to wash away sin. Today you have put the blood of Jesus on trial. So, does it wash away sin or not?”
Too often, even as Christians, we bring up the past and use it as a weapon against our brothers and sisters. Forgiveness is a very foundational part of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If the blood of Jesus does not cleanse the other person completely, then it cannot cleanse us completely. If that is the case, then we are all in a lot of trouble. What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
(Eph 4:32 KJV) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Jesus referred to this “New Covenant” at the Last Supper, the Thursday night before He died.
(Mat 26:26-28 NKJV) And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." {27} Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. {28} "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

The change of heart, knowing God, and forgiveness would come at the cross.  It would come as Jesus shed His blood for us.

NOTE:  The “New Covenant” is another way of saying the “New Testament”.

:35-37 God’s unbreakable bond with Israel

:35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name):

:36 "If those ordinances depart From before Me, says the LORD, Then the seed of Israel shall also cease From being a nation before Me forever."

:37 Thus says the LORD: "If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the LORD.

Is God finished with Israel?

Some say that God is done with Israel. Does the sun still rise?

:38-40 Jerusalem to be rebuilt

:38 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, that the city shall be built for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.

:39 "The surveyor's line shall again extend straight forward over the hill Gareb; then it shall turn toward Goath.

:40 "And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the Brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the LORD. It shall not be plucked up or thrown down anymore forever."

This restoration that Jeremiah has been talking about will include a rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem.

At this restoration, the whole city will be “holy to the LORD”.

That’s not true today.

At that restoration, it will never be destroyed again.

That didn’t happen after the Babylonian captivity.  It WILL happen when Jesus returns.